Friday, August 6 in Chicago (ESPN 2): Prenice Brewer (15-0-1, 6 KOs) vs. Patrick Lopez (19-2, 11 KOs), junior welterweights (140 lb.)
Prediction: Brewer by decision.
One way to determine how good a fight is - by how hard it is to predict the winner. Week after week, "Friday Night Fights" puts on the best bouts for the money based on that criteria. This is no exception. Lopez has more experience and has fought a better level of opposition, and his only two losses have been close decisions to high-level opponents. Interestingly, Brewer drew in his debut and has since rolled off 15 straight, and he's only fought once in his hometown of Cleveland. Both have amateur pedigree, Brewer winning the 2005 National Golden Gloves and Lopez twice representing Venezuela in the Olympics. If Brewer can go the distance with the older, stronger Lopez, he should pull out a competitive decision win.
Breidis Prescott (22-2, 19 KOs) vs. Harrison Cuello (19-12-3, 14 KOs), welterweights (147 lb.) Prediction: Prescott by TKO.
Prescott continues to get mileage out of his shocking 2008 first round knockout of young British star Amir Khan, as he continues to get opportunity after opportunity, and good for him. He can be outboxed, though, as we saw last year on ESPN 2 against Miguel Vazquez and again last December in his unsuccessful return to the U.K. Cuello was relegated to opponent status, having gone 0-4-1 in his last five, until he surprised Steve Forbes and stole a decision in March. If Cuello can take it the distance he stands a very good shot; Prescott only stands at 2-2 in decisions.
Friday, August 6 in Hinckley, Minn. (Showtime):
Chris Avalos (16-0, 13 KOs) vs. Christopher Martin (18-0-2, 5 KOs), bantamweights (118 lb.) Prediction: Avalos by KO.
Like ESPN 2, Showtime, and especially ShoBox, continue to produce excellent television. However, why are two Californians headlining in Minnesota? Be that as it may, Avalos, a rare knockout-punching bantamweight, has become an exciting young contender via his ShoBox performances, though this may be his toughest test, against a fellow young undefeated fighter. If he can catch Martin and turn it into a brawl, he should end it inside the distance.
Lateef Kayode (12-0, 11 KOs) vs. Alfredo Escalera, Jr. (18-2-1, 12 KOs), cruiserweights (200 lb.) Prediction: Kayode by KO.
Kayode, another Californian, makes his ShoBox debut and he'll be hungry and up for the challenge in his toughest bout to date. Like Brewer, he has an interesting record; he debuted with a decision win, then stopped his next 11 to set up this fight. Escalera competed on "The Contender" when the cruiserweights fought in Singapore, and he was KO'd by AK Laleye. Under Freddie Roach's tutelage, can Kayode become a future cruiserweight or even heavyweight star?
Saturday, August 7 in St. Louis (HBO):
IBF Champ Tavoris Cloud (20-0, 18 KOs) vs. Glen Johnson (50-13-2, 34 KOs), light heavy. (175 lb.) Prediction: Johnson by KO.
They could have billed this as "Something's Gotta Give." When you match two men who have each, without fail, always been the toughest one in the ring, the result is generally a bruising war of attrition. Think Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito or, going back some years, George Foreman-Joe Frazier or any number of the 70s heavyweights. Cloud earns his money busting people up with relentless combinations, and Johnson is the living, breathing epitome of a fighter who walks his opponent down. Cloud may take the clever route and box and move more, gladly taking a decision, but that doesn't seem to be his nature. If Cloud-Johnson lives up to its potential, it will put on display why we love boxing. Cloud can dish it out, but can he take it? We'll find out Saturday night.
IBF-WBC Champ Devon Alexander (20-0, 13 KOs) vs. Andriy Kotelnik (31-3-1, 13 KOs),
junior welterweights (140 lb.) Prediction: Alexander by decision.
Why are analysts okay with this pairing? If you're a gambler, go all in on Alexander. This is a lock. A guarantee. A cinch. With all due respect to Kotelnik, who's a very good boxer and formber titlist with a reasonably distinguished resume, he's facing an aopponent who's younger, stronger, faster and better. So HBO decided to hand a payday to Alexander against an unknown Ukrainian who's never fought in the U.S., whom nobody really knows and whom Amir Khan dominated in his last bout? They're like Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions over there.